Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Personal Challenge

I am currently serving in two callings that I love: first, as stake Relief Society secretary, and second, as a teacher in our ward RS. I love them for different reasons. I relish the opportunity to travel to every unit in our stake and meet all of the extraordinary sisters who share their talents with us, and I feel privileged to serve in a presidency of such accomplished, bright and spiritually mature women (including my mom, who is the president -- yes, it's nepotism). And it doesn't hurt that Julie Beck is doing our women's conference in August, or that I got to spend some pretty good quality time with Virginia Pearce when she came to speak a few years ago.

But the calling I love the most is that of RS teacher. I used to covet this calling, when I was Young Women's president and spent what seemed like every minute that I wasn't nursing newborn twins planning activities, driving girls all over kingdom come, and carrying out those plans. I thought teaching Relief Society would be the ultimate in church service because you only had to do something one Sunday a month.

There is so much more to it than that, though! I learn so much as I prepare these lessons, and I am sure that only a fraction of what I glean as I study is conveyed to the class as I teach. I have learned that although the time I spend preparing for and carrying out my resposibilities for this calling is short, I become more responsible on a personal level for what I am learning as well. So, less face time, you could say, spent in fulfilling my calling, but a lot more personal time.

Stay with me -- I'm getting somewhere here, and I promise it won't just apply to members of our church.

I taught a few weeks ago. My new responsibility is to teach on the 4th Sunday, so now I teach conference talks, and the first one assigned was given by Silvia Allred, a member of the RS General Presidency, at last fall's conference. The topic was temple worship.

A word of explanation for those of you who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: temple worship is the pinnacle of spiritual experience, and is reserved for those actively and worthily living the principles of the Gospel. In the temple, we make covenants with God that, when fulfilled, allow us to live together with our families for eternity in a state we refer to as exaltation. Once we have made those covenants for ourselves, we attend the temple on behalf of those who have already passed on, and symbolically we renew the covenants for ourselves each time we go.

As I prepared this lesson, and read Sister Allred's words, I began to really understand something about the Gospel. We spend a lot of time -- all of us, not just members of the LDS church -- talking about the things that are important to us. We talk about temple worship, and scripture study and prayer and daily discipleship activities. We talk about eating right and getting exercise and spending more time with our families. We talk about spending less money and saving for retirement and getting organized and not yelling at our kids . . . you get the picture.

We talk about all of these things. And then we don't do them. In September, I had a trip planned to the temple in Columbia, SC. As the time for the trip approached, gas prices began to skyrocket and I decided not to attend the temple because I didn't want to spend $4.00 per gallon. I still managed to buy a new pair of shoes that month, though. I still managed to pay the bill for my satellite dish.

Where is the disconnect? If it's not important enough for us to actually do it, why isn't it important enough? This is a question I have been asking myself lately about a lot of things. If it's not important enough for me to practice my viola more than I do, why isn't it? Sometimes the answer is legitimate -- I mean, who wants to get out an instrument worth more than a brand new (really nice) car when there are three little children around, all prone to the destruction of property?

Every action we take has much more far-reaching implications than we realize. Each of us undergoes individual struggles on a daily basis that require us to weigh our choices in the balance of what we know about how we can be. If yelling at your kids and improving your relationship with them is truly important, you will do more than just talk about it. If losing weight and getting regular exercise is truly important, you will do more than just talk about it. If living with your family for eternity in the presence of God is really where you want to be, you will do more than just talk about it.

I know I have some things in my life that need some serious reevaluation. How about you?

Hope I haven't sounded too preachy here. But this was really a pivotal moment for me, and I felt compelled to share.


  1. "...if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love...can ye feel so now?"

    I think most of us are content to keep that song in our hearts. There's something about our breathtaking potential that is far more frightening than the possibility of being merely average.

    So we acknowledge the divine within us, but hide from the responsibilities that come with the job. Lotsa talk; little action.

    You've given me a much-needed kick in the pants! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I totally agree. I am the 4th Sunday teacher in my ward also and I totally think it is the best calling ever! Though I am also the choir director which takes a lot of time... Our temple is only 5 minutes away but I have found that it becomes really easy to say "things are a lot busier tonight than I thought so I'll just go on Thursday (or whatever) and the next think I know the month has flown by. It is a universal truth. It always takes commitment to be a regular temple attender. Our talk was "the Test" by President Packer. Very good for me as well. Thanks! Have fun.

  3. Inkmom, you and I must have been in some of the same classes in the pre-existence. :)

    First of all, as I read that one of your callings was RS teacher, I felt a little bit of envy since that is one of those callings that I have never had but always thought would be so wonderful!!!

    Secondly, I have been thinking about this very thing SO MUCH lately!! In fact, I have been making a lot of changes in my life lately b/c I want to stop talking about who I want to be and what I wish I was doing. I am trying to become the woman whom I dream of becoming. It is not easy because it takes a lot of self-motivation, dedication, and consistency.

    I am so grateful that we have become "virtual friends". I seriously love you and you always seem to post about things that I am struggling with or striving to do in my life. Thank you for your great example.

  4. Wow- time for some serious reevaluation. Thanks for the nudge.
    And I agree- RS teacher is the best calling. Had it back in the Y days. Maybe one day I'll have it again. Enjoy!

  5. I LOVED this post. Thank you so much for your inspiring words. I have been thinking about this a lot lately too, and am slowly making changes in my life to help me be the woman/wife/mother/daughter/sister that I want to be. I have a long way to go, but we have all of eternity, right?

  6. You don't sound preachy at all. Faith is an action word... this was a wonderful reminder. :)

  7. So true! And just what I needed to read! Thanks!

    And thanks so much for your awesome lists!

  8. I am the education counselor in our ward and want to THANK you for taking your calling so personally and seriously. YOU matter so much to the sisters of your ward. Nepotism or not, glad you are doing it. Thanks for the talk idea. We aren't teaching that one, but I would love to read it again.


Sock it to me!